Wednesday, 14 January 2015

What the Columnists Say

Published in Roundup of Columnists

Several columnists have brought up the recent attack against Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Yusuf Kaplan in Yeni Safak writes that the attack was the work of the French “deep state” in order to increase Islamophobia. Orhan Kemal Cengiz in Bugün writes that pious Muslims must stop hiding behind conspiracy theories, and Nuray Mert writes on the Diken news site that blaming such attacks on groups created by the West is simply an attempt to pretend that there is not a major problem that Muslims need to tackle. 


Yusuf Kaplan in Yeni Şafak writes that the attack against the journal Charlie Hebdo was the work of the French “deep state.” After this attack racism, Islamophobia, hostility against Islam is going to hit the ceiling! The hunt of Muslims is going to commence! This is a well-planned scheme! Let’s not be fooled! This is an attack schemed by the French deep state in order to escalate Islamophobia! This is the 9/11 scheme of Europe! It is the only way to legitimize the hostility against Islam that is spreading around Europe! A big disaster is looming: They are going to stage a major attack against Islam. They are going to devastate the Muslims; not only those in Europe, but worldwide! It was not Europe that was hit in Paris; it was Islam that was hit! That was the target! The champagne bottles were opened, and toasts were proposed behind closed doors in Western capitals, in Paris, London, New York and of course in Tel Aviv! 


Orhan Kemal Cengiz in Bugün writes that pious Muslims must stop hiding behind conspiracy theories. Every time I bring up the subject of the atrocities that are committed in the name of religion in Iraq, Syria and Pakistan with pious friends, I get the same reaction. They either say that the perpetrators have nothing to do with Islam or they have been used by the CIA and MOSSAD.  But there is a major problem here. These perpetrators, like the ones that massacred the editors of Charlie Hebdo, in their own eyes see their actions as being legitimized by certain Islamic sources. Are our friends who say that these actions have nothing to do with Islam claiming that these religious sources do not exist, or are they interpreting these sources in a totally different way? Are they suggesting that the meaning of these sources have changed in today’s circumstances? As long as they fail to explain why they do not make the same interpretation of the religious sources that the barbarians refer to, our pious friends are not going to have any impact whatsoever. Above all, what is now called for is that the religious references that the barbarians make use of are discussed; that they are re-interpreted and indeed refuted.


Nuray Mert on the Diken news site writes that each and every individual Muslim shares the responsibility for the image of Islam in the world.  Saying that “This is not Islam” or “It is the West that created these groups” in the face of atrocities that are committed in the name of Islam amounts to nothing but to an attempt to pretend that there is not a major problem that Muslims need to tackle. Islam is what Muslims at every given age choose to define and understand it as. In our modern age, Muslims have failed to understand Islam other than within the confines of a blind reaction to the West. The complex of inferiority against the West has in some cases produced an extreme admiration for the West; at the other extreme, a blind rage has welled up. What have the Muslims to show other than these two extremes? Where is the intellectual world, the aesthetics, the answers to the problems of humanity (other than a vulgar nostalgia)? Aren’t you aware of it – it’s only because you have nothing to offer, to say to humanity, that some types are able to claim the mantle of Islam for their murders?


Ali Bayramoğlu in Yeni Şafak points to democratic flaws in the Turkish government’s otherwise just fight against the Gülenist entrenchment in the state apparatus. Democracy and the rule of law call for a fight against the fraternity.  However, the fact that the fight that is waged by the elected government is legitimate does not mean that all of the methods used in the fight are legitimate and just as well. From a democratic perspective, there are five problems with the struggle waged by the government that it needs to address. First, it is not acceptable that the principle of individual criminal responsibility is set aside, creating the impression of a general, politically motivated investigation. Second, the fight against the fraternity should not be confined to the cases that the fraternity tried to open on December 17 and December 25, 2013. That creates the impression of this only being a power struggle, not a restoration of the system. Also other cases, such as the Sledgehammer case, the Oda TV case and the KCK case need to be included in the investigation of the activities of the fraternity. Third, the AK Party must quickly change its stance with regard to the corruption cases. If the government rids itself of its rotten elements, its struggle against the fraternity that hides behind these cases will gain much in credibility. Fourthly, as everyone knows, the AK Party and the fraternity cooperated closely after 2007. Even though the government had nothing to do with the operational force and initiatives of the fraternity during this period, it was nonetheless politically responsible. It is the AK Party’s duty to explain what happened during this period. It needs to be frank about the mistakes for which it was responsible and enumerate the steps that it intends to take in order to rectify those mistakes. Lastly, the government’s struggle is impaired by the lack of transparence. The tentacles of the fraternity, the threat that it poses, should be presented to the general public in every detail in an open session of the parliament.


Şahin Alpay in Zaman tries to explain how Erdoğan went from being a democratic hope to an autocrat. There are different theories: According to the supporters of Kemalist tutelage, the change of the AKP is the inevitable result of its hidden Islamic agenda. The friends of liberty explain it as being the result of the classic syndrome, according to which “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And then there are those who resort to psychological explanations. What is clear is that the AKP has evolved and that at the present stage, it has become difficult to speak of AKP’s ideology. If we absolutely need to attach an ideological label to it, we may say that the AKP has Kemalist inclinations, in the sense that it is authoritarian, and intolerant toward civil society and opposition; that it resorts to Islamic populism (demagoguery) in order to secure its power; and that it is inspired by Putinism in its endeavor to establish a one-man, one-party rule. But what really defines the AKP is that it has no other aim, ideal and character than being an opportunistic party of an individual (Erdoğan) that is devoted to nothing else but to securing the political and economic power of an interest group.

Read 7645 times Last modified on Tuesday, 20 January 2015

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The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.


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